Tuesday, 16 of September of 2014

Formatting a book for print with CreateSpace in Microsoft Word part 1

I thought I’d take a bit of time to talk about how I formatted my story in a Microsoft Word document to print perfectly at CreateSpace.  I’ll be focusing on Word 2007/Word 2010, as that’s what I have, but similar functions exist in prior versions of Word.  We’ll be formatting for a 6×9 trade paperback, but you can use these same techniques for any size book–just refer to the CreateSpace help files for the exact dimensions you need for margins, gutters, etc.

In this section, we’re going to talk about margins and font choices.

 

Margins

Margins are extremely important.  Without the correct margins, your book will print too far into the gutter (where the glue binds) or too near an edge.  To set your margins in Word, you have to go to the Page Layout tab in word, and select the Margins dropdown.  Choose “Custom Margins” at the very bottom.

 

 

Once you have selected “custom margins”, you will be presented with a margin dialog.  Make sure your margins are set exactly like mine are shown here.

 

Notice that I have all the margins at .75″ except the outside margin (which means you can print a little closer to the side edge of the book).  And a .13″ gutter, which is important to make sure there’s enough room for the glue.  Extremely large books (over like say 600 pages) need larger gutters. As a 100,000 word novel in 6×9 format should come out to slightly less than 300 pages, I won’t really go into that here.

Note that my margins are also set to “mirror margins”.  This means that the left gutter mirrors the right gutter, which is exactly what we want. When the book is printed, left pages will have the gutter on the right and vice versa. See the preview image in the dialog? It’ll give a visual idea for what I mean. Make sure your page orientation is set to “portrait” and you’re good to go!

Once you’ve set the margins, click the Paper tab.

Since we’re working on a 6×9 trade paperback, set the paper size to “custom” and the Width to 6″ and Height to 9″. It’s that simple.

While we’re here, click on the Layout tab. We’ll set things up for our headers (where things like book titles and page numbers go), which I’ll cover in a later post.

These are the settings I used in my book. Make sure “Different odd and even” is checked, as most books have mirrored headers.  Again, I’ll cover headers in a later post. Just trust me for now.

 

Font Choices

You want a simple, easy to read font. There are a few font choices built into Word that work well. You can use Times New Roman, but I don’t prefer it. Garamond is another good, all-round easy to read font. It’s all right to use specialized and stylized fonts for things like titles, but I would stay away from them for the book’s interior. You might think a particular font looks awesome, but you don’t want anything to distract the reader from your story–which is why they’re reading your book in the first place. Keep it simple. If you use a calligraphy font throughout your book, very few of your readers will praise you for it.

You also want to make sure that any font you choose is a ‘serif’ font.  Arial as a sans-serif font.  Serifs are the little extra details on the ends of the strokes that make up a letter.  The letter ‘A’ in a serif font (such as Times New Roman) has little feet on the bottom, and on a sans-serif font (such as Arial) there are no little feet. Sans-serif fonts are great for computing work–they’re clean, and easy on the eyes.  But for printed matter, the serif is king. Your book will simply look better. 11 or 12 point font size tends to work best.

For my book, I chose Garamond, 11 point.

In part 2, I’ll talk about how to format paragraphs, how to reformat your entire book easily with your chosen paragraph format, and how to modify font styles.


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